It appears that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger running for reelection in the Republican primary received over 50 percent of the vote, thereby avoiding a runoff. He defeated Congressman Jody Hice, who embraced the Stop the Steal movement and the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.
It is hard to overstate how dangerous it would be for an election denier to be the chief election officer of a swing state during the 2024 elections. I wrote in the Harvard Law Review Forum about how having people run elections who refuse to accept the reality of 2020 greatly increases the risk of a stolen election in the future.
Trump opposed Raffensperger, who famously released the recording of Trump pressuring him to “find” 11,780 votes to flip the state of Georgia presidential election results from Biden to Trump. Trump supported Hice. He also supported former Senator David Purdue, who ran against incumbent governor Brian Kemp in the Republican gubernatorial primary on an election conspiracy platform. Kemp trounced Purdue, beating him by around 50 points.
So what lessons can we learn from this? First, the majority of Republican voters in Georgia were not animated by Trump’s election denial claims; it didn’t get a majority to turn against Kemp. That’s good news.
Hice did somewhat better against Raffensperger, though, and there’s some question as to whether some Democrats crossed over and voted in the GOP primary to help Raffensperger avoid a runoff. [Update from the AJC: “About 7% of voters in this year’s Republican primary previously cast ballots in the Democratic primary in 2020, according to state election data analyzed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.”]
This still means that about a third of Republican primary voters were willing to vote for an election denier. And an election denier, Doug Mastriano, is going to be the GOP nominee for governor in Pennsylvania. Around the country, election deniers are winning local races, and signing up to be poll workers. Some already work in election administration.
While election denial is not swinging most elections to election deniers, being an election denier is hardly disqualifying among many voters for those seeking to run electins.
So we are not out of the woods yet. Far from it. But this is a good result tonight that is a relief.